Every Beginning is Another Beginning's End
Santana pulled a chattering Violet up into her lap as the small girl wriggled in an attempt to both get comfortable and show off her drawing even though she had shown it to her mother about a million times. Looking down at her feet she saw a one-year-old Ella looking up at her with bright eyes full of indignation at being left out of the lap party. With a whine she stood and steadied herself on Santana's legs before raising her arms to indicate she was ready to be lifted to her preferred spot.
Smiling, she brushed her soft black hair back a little before rubbing her cheek lovingly, "I know sweetheart just wait for a few more minutes okay?" she said knowing the plea would do nothing to calm her youngest daughter.
"Mama's inside?" Violet asked as Santana leaned forward and booted up her laptop. She had tried to explain video chats to the girl and even though she was nearly three the explanation clearly hadn't been sufficient.
"No hon, she isn't in the computer, but we can see her with it."
It was odd to her that Brittany's nickname of Mama Bear had transferred to Violet making her Mama and Santana mommy. She knew it was a damn sight better than them calling her Santana, but it was still weird because she had always associated that title with the Brittany she had known in Ohio. Being called mommy by her girls made her feel like she had been given a real title, as if the name brought with it all care and parental know how of the other woman. She was fully aware that the notion was absurd but it was how she felt, like it was a verbal confirmation that she could be an exceptional parent.
Ella gave loud whine of disapproval at still being left out of the loop as Santana busied herself opening Skype.
"Can I show dis?" Violet pointed to her drawing as if she wasn't sure whether the computer would be capable of displaying the image.
"Of course." She said.
As she logged in to her account she sincerely hoped Brittany understood the directions she had texted to her for this chat because Ella was getting seriously bent out of shape about still being on the floor and she had promised Violet they would get to see her. For a while she began to think that she would have to pick up a phone and walk her through it but instead her wife's face appeared on the screen, features contorted in intense concentration.
"Fancy meeting you here." Santana said gaining her attention.
Brittany's face immediately slipped into an easy smile, "Oh good I thought I might have deleted a program or something."
"Hi Mama, look!" Violet exclaimed holding up her drawing.
"Ooo, a turtle horsebat." She replied looking at the picture in awe.
"Uh-huh." The small blonde confirmed.
Santana gave the picture a second look, she could have sworn it was a man in a bear coat trying to scale a mountain. Of course Brittany would be the one to be able to correctly decipher such things.
A sharp tug at her pants leg told her Ella had reached the end of her patience, but Brittany beat her to her planed segue.
"Honey where's Ella?"
Santana couldn't keep the grin off her face as she stooped over to collect the girl in her arms, waiting for the right moment to bring her into view.
"Our youngest said her first word today." She announced and as expected Brittany's face was washed over with explosive happiness.
"She did? What was it?" she asked in a rush.
Finally Santana lifted Ella up to her lap and waited for her eyes to find the screen and focus on the person on it. At first she just stared at the image of her mother and for a moment Santana thought she wouldn't say anything, but when Brittany saw her and gave a loving greeting the girl smiled and reached for the screen.
"Mama!" she squealed.
The word had the desired effect, though a little too much so because Brittany looked like she was going to cry, granted it was in a barely contained happiness sort of way.
"She saw our wedding photo up on the mantle and just said it. She misses you, we all do."
"I miss you all too. How are negotiations going?" Brittany asked, still clearly choked up.
Santana was in Ohio, mainly to tour the girls through their grandparents, but also to oversee dealings between the Lima Pop n' Lock and the schools in the area to help promote dance. Some well-meaning kid from a local high school had proposed it and Brittany had thought it was a great idea so she had pursued it. Though it was tough since Ohio wasn't exactly the center for cultivation of the arts so she had to throw her weight around to get anything moving at all. She didn't have a lot of faith that anything would really come of it, but the Ohio studio was inexplicably popular and she had to at least try. Even with the venture being thereason for their prolonged stay.
"I'm on schedule more or less so we should be home in a week." Santana said while trying to keep Ella from attempting to reach Brittany through the screen.
"I can't wait."
"Mama I saw a jirf!" Violet chimed.
"She means a giraffe, we went to the zoo."
The small girl nodded vigorously, "With gama and ganpa."
"Are you still staying with them?" Brittany asked Violet.
"No." she answered simply.
"We're staying with my mom this week. It was like watching the bid for the Olympic games the way they haggled over who stayed with who when." Santana elaborated.
"Mama!" Ella demanded giving Santana a frustrated look.
For a moment it occurred to Santana that this hadn't been the best idea, Brittany looked outright wounded by her inability to offer any sort of tactile comfort to Ella who had been driven to speak for the first time in her life due to her absence.
Since Brittany was booked solid as a teacher back in the Florida studio, Santana had taken Violet and Ella with her. The idea had seemed perfect since Brittany needed to stay in Florida and since Santana couldn't always have the girls with her Carla, Faith and Richard practically fell over themselves for babysitting duty. And though they were young Santana even took them to see what few charms Lima had to offer and they seemed to enjoy it.
But soon both Violet and Ella began to feel Brittany's absence and a week into their trip Ella had become nearly inconsolable until Richard found that she could be calmed by old home videos of Brittany. After the first week they left the Pierce residence and went to Carla's but the change in location brought back Ella's irritation at the continued lack of her other parent. That was until today when she had spotted their wedding photo over the fireplace. The tears stopped and for the first time since arriving she smiled, when given the picture she predictably tried to eat it but luckily the one she had was one of Carla's many extras.
It was Ella's distress that made Santana insist on the video chat in the first place but now she realized that this was a first for her wife. Brittany had never gone a single day without spending at least a couple hours with their children, even on her busiest days. Furthermore she hadn't spent more that two days out of Santana's company since their wedding.
Only then did it occur to her that Brittany was totally alone in their large house for the first time ever, she had been for a whole week and was facing a week more.
"How are you holding up by yourself?" she asked tentatively.
"I'm making it one day at a time." It was clearly meant to be a light joking statement but she was smiling in a way that seemed totally forced as she watched Ella continue to squirm to get to her.
"We'll be home before you know it."
"Mama come here." Violet offered.
"I wish I could, but I'm still working a lot." Brittany replied apologetically.
"After we can all go on a vacation together, no work for me or mama how about that?" Santana tried.
Violet frowned and shrugged as this solution did not solve the immediate problem and Ella had not ceased her quest to travel through the computer screen.
"That sounds great." Brittany answered as neither of their children were offering a verbal opinion.
Santana allowed Violet to go on and explain how and where her illustrated creature lived, she only made sense a little less than half the time but Brittany sat and listened intently taking in every word. Santana had a sneaking suspicion she could understand the encrypted child talk, it wouldn't be at all surprising. When Ella began to get obstinate about her computer traveling attempts she was forced to bring the call to an end.
Luckily the end of the call coincided with bedtime for the girls because Ella had bypassed fussy and went for full on tantrum once the line with Brittany was cut, even Violet had started to get sniffly. Thankfully Carla heard the commotion and came to the rescue as only a grandmother could, she quieted the girls with an infectiously chipper attitude while bringing them to the bathroom to get cleaned up for bed. After the introduction of bubbles to their bath the crisis was temporarily avoided.
Since they were visiting, Santana had assumed they would stay in the guest room together but she was surprised to learn that her mother hadn't changed her room since she had suddenly vanished so long ago. Though she was over feeling guilty about the past she did resolve to visit her mother more since it was something she should have known about and it made it apparent that Carla missed her more than she thought.
Her room still had her old bed and posters with the same dark sheets, the only change now was the crib against the far wall that her mother had bought the moment she heard they were coming. It was large, white and stuck out in jarring contrast to the rest of the room. Though given the circumstances she supposed that was fitting.
After her bath Ella grew instantly tired and was placed gently inside the white barred bed by Carla followed by Violet. The girl was old enough to sleep in the bed with Santana but when in a new place she did best when close to her sister. Besides it was quite adorable to watch Violet snuggle close to Ella and fall into a deep sleep that a freight train couldn't get her out of.
With the lights off she lay down in her old bed and, just like every other time she did, old memories hit her, some sweet and pleasant, others lonely and hopeless. The room held a lot and though she felt silly for it there was a sense of accomplishment at sleeping in her old room with her and Brittany's children. Memories of the past saw her to sleep before she was jolted awake by Ella's cries.
At this point her body was conditioned to respond to the sound of a crying child so she was up and had Ella in her arms before she could register what was actually happening. It quickly became apparent that it was three in the morning, meaning she had been out longer than it felt like, and this was a sporadic sleeping issue. Luckily Violet was a sound sleeper and remained still as Santana found her way to the living room already knowing what this was about. Hoping for an instant fix she tried singing and rocking, but Ella wasn't going to be quelled so easily. Hoping against hope she searched through her mother's VHS collection for the ever-hated stash of home movies hoping to find something that included Brittany. Eventually she hit gold with a recording of her Quinceañera and after spending ten tortuous minutes of handling a screaming toddler while trying to remember how to work a VCR she had the tape playing.
Ella seemed displeased with the new noise in the room forcing Santana to fast forward until a tall blonde girl in a bright purple dress with a matching bow in her hair appeared on screen. She was waving happily at the camera and showing off her dress next to a freshly fifteen Santana who did the same out of pure exuberance at having her best friend at her party.
Ella was temporarily mesmerized by the screen and downgraded her crying to hiccups. The celebration went on and other members of her family came in and out of the shots, but luckily the camera focused mainly on her and Brittany was always nearby. Santana watched their past interactions remembering the day as it unfolded on the screen, she recalled it had been stressful since she had been noticing Brittany in a more than friendly way for almost a year at that point and the other girl had been all over her cousins making her insanely jealous. She knew it was exactly one month after her birthday that they had their first kiss at some senior's party, Brittany had been pretty drunk and Santana had pretended to be.
After a few minutes it got to the part where Brittany pulled the cameraman aside and began to give a speech like it was a wedding video, wishing Santana all the best in her future endeavors. As she recalled Brittany had in fact thought a Quinceañera was Spanish for a wedding held on one's birthday. Once Santana had corrected her she had been very happy to find that her friend was still single. Actually she was pretty sure her elation over it was what had led to the kiss.
The screen changed to her talking with her father who was telling her how proud he was of his little girl. Brittany was still present however she was talking to a boy in a gaudy gold tux and was too far in the background for Ella's liking. The child grumbled but in a distant and tired way as she had almost completely fallen asleep again.
Santana grinned at the way her younger self seemed rather fixated on Brittany's table rather than the way her father was gesturing grandly about the car he had bought her.
Rubbing Ella's head she stood to carry her back to their room, "Yeah, we're both kind of hopeless without her." She said to the now sleeping child.
Carefully she put Ella back in her crib next to Violet whose whole body seemed to relax with the renewed contact. Bone tired, Santana was about to crawl back into bed when she remembered the look on Brittany's face when they had said goodbye.
She knew instinctively those halfhearted assurances that everything was fine were purely for her benefit and even though it was closing in on four a.m. she knew if she called her wife she'd be up.
Grabbing her phone and setting back in front of the television still playing scenes from her birthday she called home hoping the feeling was wrong and her wife would be asleep. Brittany picked up on the second ring.
"Hello?" her voice was stuffy and thick, she had been crying and Santana knew why.
"Hey, sounds like you need a little cheering up." She said lightly though a deep frown was on her face.
"Huh? No, I just um-" she cleared her throat and blew her nose in quick succession, "I'm fine, a little dust in my eyes and throat... I was dusting."
Santana rolled her eyes, "You were crying, about Ella I'm guessing." She said simply.
"I can't believe I missed her first word."
"Britt relax, even if we were in town you would have been at the studio or I would have been out with the girls. And you didn't miss Violet's, one and one is a good record if you ask me."
"But what if I miss her first steps next?"
"Calm down, don't start crying over milk no one has spilled."
"What does that even mean?" she sniffled.
"You haven't missed any steps, don't worry."
"I just miss you all so much. When I come home and no one's here… it sucks."
"I know. One more week and we come home okay?"
"A week feels like the longest amount of time in the world." Brittany mumbled.
"I didn't get a chance to ask, how are things at the studio?" she was trying to turn the subject to happier things but the other woman seemed just as morose as when she answered.
"Wonderful. I'm having a great time with my new class and Mike is thinking about starting something for people with disabilities. Since I'm totally booked for a while Jamie said she'd do it. She's great to work with too, but you already know that." Her words were pleasant but Santana knew the conversation had moved on while Brittany had not.
"Please cheer up, we'll be home before you know it."
"But I know it now."
"You know what I mean."
"I do, I'm still sad I missed out but I'm okay really. I'll just go to bed now." She said accenting her words with a yawn.
"Alright. Love you."
"Love you too."
Brittany hung up and Santana stood looking at her pone, the internal alarms in her head going off worse than before she called.
By morning Santana concluded that Brittany had merely refused to say the words 'Come home.' She was mostly upset at herself for failing to see it earlier and not predicting that the video chat did nothing but make her feel worse about wanting their return. More than likely she hadn't been able to say it because she and Violet had such happy reports, Ella with her tears and tantrums over her missing parent was being the most honest.
Mind made up she canceled the rest of her meetings telling them she had an emergency back home, which wasn't a lie, and didn't feel even slightly bad about leaving. Mainly because this was Ohio and it had nothing that was worth this estrangement. She apologized profusely to her mother for cutting the visit short, promising to visit again, and soon, for a major holiday of her choice with the whole family exclusively staying at her house.
That guilt trip sidestepped, she booked tickets for a flight for the next morning so they could be back in Miami by late afternoon to put Brittany's mind at ease. However, at the airport Violet somehow got her hands on nail clippers that Santana had never seen before causing them to be held up by security. And once they were finally in the air Ella's ears had popped the whole way home and she made sure Santana was every bit as miserable as she was. So by the time they made it to the car at the airport's parking lot the weary woman was ready to go straight home and sleep for a few hours.
Then she remembered Brittany's tears and forced herself to redirect her course for the studio.
By the time they arrived Violet and Ella had fallen asleep but when the car stopped her oldest woke and burst out in an enormous grin when she recognized the building.
"Mama's here?" she asked excitedly.
"Yes we're going to go see her."
Those words had Violet scrambling to try and unfasten her car seat with no success. The mention of Brittany had caused Ella's eyes to blearily open though she was still too tired to make a fuss. Santana understood that as she pulled herself out of the car and unloaded Ella first, knowing Violet would try to bolt the second her little feet hit the ground. And once she was unstrapped she tried to do just that but Santana caught her by the back of the shirt just in time.
"Listen little missy we are going to see mama at work, that means you can't just go wherever you want. Stay with me and I will tell you when it's okay to go see her, understand?"
Violet pouted magnificently but nodded all the same, "Uh-huh."
Santana smiled and gave her a kiss on the forehead, "Good girl now walk, calmly, with me." She said and started for the door.
The older child did more or less as she was asked, once they entered the door she continued to walk at Santana's side but a fidgety dance told her the child wanted to dart in all directions to search for her mother.
The receptionist informed her of Brittany's location but just barely, the small wiry man tripped over his words as he realized who exactly she was. She would have told him to relax but honestly it was highly amusing and nothing funny had happened since she reached the airport in Ohio.
She reached the end of the hall and saw from the observation window that she had found the right place. Brittany was teaching what had to be an advanced group a complicated routine and was watching them closely and correcting their movements. Santana watched quietly until Violet pushed up on her tippy toes and peeked through the glass.
Excited she turned to try and reach for the door handle, it was well out of her reach but Santana caught hold of her anyway, "What did I say?"
"But mama's there." She whined.
"I know and she's teaching, you'll have to wait, don't worry it won't be much longer."
She may as well have said it will be eight years the way Violet looked back at her.
Ignoring the wounded puppy stare that would break her resolve to wait, she stood grateful that Ella had drifted back to sleep on her shoulder instead of waking and adding an element of drama to the whole affair.
As it turned out there were only three minutes left in the lesson, but one would be pressed to guess that the way Violet was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet like she had been waiting a lifetime. When Brittany clearly dismissed her students, and Santana gave her bouncy daughter the okay, the small girl dashed to get to the door handle she couldn't reach. Santana had mercy and pulled the latch down, opening the door to let her take off into the room.
Brittany was talking to Jamie when her daughter came barreling down on her and the look of surprise then boundless joy made every pain suffered to get there totally worth it. Violet ran at her with open arms and Brittany picked the girl up easily spinning them both to keep the child's momentum from knocking her off balance.
Santana followed, grinning from ear to ear and when Brittany saw her and Ella she seemed even more surprised, as if she expected Violet to have made it back without them.
Quickly she crossed the room and gave Santana a greeting kiss, "What are you doing here?" she asked clearly still stunned and overjoyed to see them.
"Had some things I needed to take care of here, they took priority over the Ohio negotiations."
"Oh, well whatever it is I'm glad it has you home sooner." She said before showering Violet in kisses that had the small girl squealing with laughter.
The sound roused Ella again and she gave everyone a solid scolding look until her gaze fell on Brittany. The attitude flew away and her irritation changed to pure delight.
Immediately her arms went out to be picked up, chanting the only word she knew how to say, Violet allowed herself to be passed back to Santana's care as Brittany pulled the toddler into her arms and held her tightly.
Seeing the obvious tears in her eyes, Santana suddenly felt horrible for having left at all, "Hope those are tears of joy."
Brittany still held Ella tight and only nodded, not looking up when she said, "I'm so glad you came home."
"How long do you have for break?" Santana asked glancing at her watch.
"Only thirty minutes before my next class." She said clearly regretting it.
"I could take over for you." Jamie said having heard the conversation.
Brittany looked torn over the decision, "Are you sure? You have an exam at school tomorrow don't you?"
"If I'm not ready by now I'll never be." She said with a shrug.
"Jammy!" Violet cheered wriggling to get free.
Once she was on the ground she ran at full speed at her friend and babysitter. Jamie caught her and gave her a small toss in the air before catching the giggling child, "Heya girlie! You have fun in Ohio?"
"Yes. But I missed mama." Violet said honestly.
"I know she missed you too, she hasn't been the same since you left."
"Jamie." Brittany huffed.
"Sorry it's the truth, Mama Bear was wigging out without her cubs." The darker woman told Violet conspiratorially.
"Mommy was too." Violet announced, "She missed mama lots."
Jamie nodded grinning back at Santana who hadn't heard, she had spotted Ella trying to suck her thumb and pulled it away from her mouth earning her a special glare that was identical to the one she had woken to in Ohio years ago. It made her laugh, causing Ella to frown in confusion before putting her hand to her chest and resting her head back into the crook of Brittany's neck.
Noticing the sudden attention she was getting she cleared her throat, "Um, so lunch, how 'bout it?"
Brittany looked to Jamie who shook her head, "Mike and I have to combo lunch and work to talk about the possible handicapable classes."
Santana's eyes narrowed marginally, "You two are always comboing lunch and something... what's up with that?"
With a dismissive roll of her eyes Jamie set Violet down, "Don't even. Okay see you later Vi, and you too madam." She added giving Ella's hand a small squeeze.
They watched Jamie walk to her belongings on the other side of the room before Santana turned and leaned in conspiratorially to Brittany, "What's the deal with those two? Anything new to report?"
"She's still crushing on Mike, he obviously likes her back but I think he's dismissing her because of the age difference."
"Think they'll get there?"
"If Jamie sets her mind to it, she has a way of getting what she wants." Brittany said laughing slightly.
Santana scooped Violet up into her arms and walked with Brittany back to the car, it was a fight to get Ella to release her hold but eventually she allowed herself to be placed in the back as long as Brittany sat between her and Violet's car seats.
They went out and had a huge lunch that made Santana even more tired than she had been, forcing Brittany to drive them home, much to Ella's vocal displeasure. However all was well when the blonde took her time tucking her daughter into her crib, and Violet was so worn out she was half asleep before she even crawled on her bed. Santana was tempted to follow her lead and just go to bed before Brittany had a chance to join her, but she held on. Once Violet and Ella were secure in their beds she got her own escort to bed and the moment her body hit the sheets her muscles relaxed, though they tensed again when Brittany followed suit and ran her hands under her shirt pulling them together in a tight spooning position.
"Hmmm baby I love where your hands are right now but I am too tired to even try anything."
"I wasn't starting anything." She said amusement in her tone.
"I can't help but notice, however, that your hands are under my shirt and moving all over the place." Santana mumbled, sleep dragging her off even as she spoke.
"Well I am officially Mrs. Hands Under the Shirt."
"That you are."
The room was quiet before the hands slowed, then stopped, instead pulling Santana impossibly close. The squeeze brought her back to consciousness just enough to hear Brittany say, "I want you as close as possible right now. I missed you so much it hurt."
And Santana fell asleep with a smile on her face knowing that she had made the right choice and now, finally all was well.
As it turned out, things weren't as settled as she thought.
From the moment she had woken from her nap everything was back the way it was, Ella was a pleasant relaxed baby and Violet was drawing some creature or contraption to show her parents.
Santana returned to business as usual with Brittany spending all of her free time with her and the kids. But then she began to spend half her breaks driving to and from the studio so she could eat with the girls, and their sex life saw a definite upspike. Not that Santana was in any way complaining. At first she thought it was a result of having been gone so long but after a month of getting jumped in any location where they happened to be alone, even momentarily, she decided that couldn't be the case.
It wasn't necessarily a problem; if nothing else she had learned how to mask an orgasm while on a conference call. However it made her wonder what the source of her the change was.
The answer came at the end of a long day, she had purchased a new restaurant recently and the changes she had made were proving more than lucrative leaving her wondering if she wanted to take over the whole chain. Violet had tried to teach Ella to walk, an event Santana had filmed and sent to her wife, the venture produced no results other than a video that would never leave her hard drive. Ella had capped off her day of exercise by starting a diet, or at least that was how Santana chose to interpret her throwing her sandwich slices at the wall.
By naptime Santana was far too worn out to wrestle Ella from her spot nuzzled at her side or Violet from her drawing that she was now coloring, a cute look of concentration on her features as she tried to stay inside the lines. She knew from experience that Ella would put up a fight if moved from her position and Violet would begin pleading for five more minutes to color for the next forty minutes. Instead of starting that she just remained still and eventually Ella fell into a comfortable sleep and Violet passed out on her drawing, crayon still in hand.
Santana was feeling pretty clever until she realized there was no way for her to get up without waking Ella. Weighing her options on whether or not to risk grumpy toddler wrath she ended up still being on the couch when the front door opened and shortly thereafter Brittany was standing in the living room.
"Hey." Santana whispered to try and keep Ella sleeping, "Do you think you can give me a hand with this one?"
Brittany grinned and moved to pick up Ella, freeing Santana allowing her to pick up Violet and carry her to her room. With the girls finally down for a few minutes Santana fully expected to be brought up to the bedroom for a nooner, but Brittany only returned to the living room and sat on the couch taking Violet's drawing in her hands.
"Looks like you guys had fun today." She said softly even though the girls were far away behind a closed door.
"We didn't go out or anything." Santana replied knowing how much her wife hated missing outings.
"I know, but it seems like a lot happened." Her voice was becoming more distant and for the first time since they had gotten back from Ohio, Santana was genuinely worried again.
"Britt if you want to stay home you can, Mike will understand."
Brittany tilted her head to the side, "I don't want to stop teaching, I just don't want to be so far away from them all the time."
Santana thought for a moment, "Want to start a daycare at the studio?"
"That's an idea, but not the solution." she laughed, "The only people you trust with our kids already have careers."
"Well what do you want to do?"
"I don't know yet." She said before pulling Santana into her lap.
For a moment Santana braced for the inevitable kisses to her ears and neck but instead Brittany just burrowed her face in her back, breathing deeply. It was a little disappointing because she had managed to get pretty excited about their alone time in an almost Pavlovian way.
After Brittany took two deep breaths Santana became suspicious, "Are… Are you sniffing me?"
She could feel Brittany smile against her back, "You smell like everything I love."
Unable to hold back her questions any longer she turned, straddling the other woman and looking her in the eyes, "Hey, what's going on up here?" she asked calmly pressing nudging Brittany's forehead.
"I want to have another baby."
Santana gave her a long searching look, "Why?"
Brittany returned it disbelievingly, "I thought we had talked about-"
"No I mean why now? I feel like this might be less about wanting a big family and more about how you felt when we left last month." She said gently.
"What if it's both?"
"So you want to stop dancing?"
"Only when I'm too pregnant to keep on going." She laughed, "But I wouldn't stop forever, I'll always be a dancer whether I work at the studio or not. I plan to teach our girls and our grandchildren and I will still be movin' and shakin' at our fiftieth wedding anniversary even if I have to do it from a wheelchair or a walker. "
"But if you do that then we'll have three kids who are at home while you're at work, I don't see how that fixes the problem you're having now."
"I think I want to work like Quinn."
Now she was truly confused, "You want to be a lawyer?"
"No, I want to work from home. That way I can always be around the kids and I can actually dance. Right now I mostly teach and though it's fun I don't get any time to do my own thing, especially since when I come home I have so much catching up to do with you guys. And the last show we did was sort of boring, it got good reviews and all but I didn't have a lot of fun doing it."
"So I'll tell Mike to pick better shows."
She shook her head swiftly, "Listen, when you found me here working for Mike I was doing it because he needed dancers, I was helping a friend and we struggled through stuff. But no matter how stupid the performance I enjoyed myself because it meant the studio got to stay open another day. Now we have lots of talented dancers-"
"None as good as you." Santana interrupted.
Brittany smiled and acknowledged her with a kiss, "But we do have a bunch and with you running the finances and promotions I'm a draw to our studio, but it wouldn't collapse without me. I want to do silly parody videos like on Youtube, or maybe even make some real ones and I want to make up my own dances again and have fun doing what I love doing. I would even do some stuff with the girls, and you if you'll join in. We could dress up and do plays together and there wouldn't be any licensing or negotiations to do we could just make up something silly and have adventures with our kids. I enjoy what I'm doing now, but it's not my dream, and it's keeping me from seeing the family I wanted so much to have with you."
Slowly she nodded trying to summarize, "So, you want to make dance videos and teach from home?"
Brittany nodded back, "I don't want to leave Mike totally hanging, plus the advanced students would make good backup dancers for more serious projects."
"And what if Puck shows one of his Hollywood friends the videos and you are asked to go to LA to make a dance movie or something?" she asked quickly knowing her wife was more than talented enough to have that happen.
"Well if they ask me before my children are in school then tough luck and I'll stick to my little setup downstairs. But after, I could be convinced to do a movie or two as long as I didn't have to stay gone too long, and family visits would be a contractual must." When Santana remained silent she prodded, "So what do you think?"
The brunet grinned, already becoming accustomed to the idea of having the other woman home more often, "That is an excellent idea. I would love to help you in any way I can and if you want another baby I am more than happy to make that happen." She said nibbling eagerly at Brittany's neck.
"I believe you were the one that explained that it can't work that way." She laughed as Santana worked her way to her breasts.
"You won't be able to prove that by what's about to happen to you." Santana purred.
Friday night had become the official Lopez Puckerman/Fabray Night Out, the excessive name was because Puckasaurus refused for it to be called Couples Night as that sounded too 'old' and Quinn refused to be lumped under the banner of Puckerman as he had yet to put a ring on it.
The night would start with them meeting at one house or the other to deposit all of their children in one location for Jamie to watch. The total was steady at four; Violet, Ella, Joseph and Caleb, but the young dancer insisted that with any more kids she was going to demand double an hour, which made Santana fumble her keys as she readied them from her purse. Upon realizing there was no way anyone knew of their plans yet she relaxed and kissed her children and godchildren goodbye. Puck gave Joseph the usual Behave speech that Santana was sure he would listen to but not because of what Puck said. The three year old could be quite belligerent when he wanted to, however he never seemed to want to when his mother was involved.
Where Brittany was the unyielding protector, Quinn was master disciplinarian, none of their children dared cross her. With the power of glaring alone she could end toy disputes and cancel tantrums, even Ella fell silent. Santana knew better than to even try, Violet and Ella had her under their thumbs in a pinch. Violet knew just how to pout to get what she wanted and had regrettably taught the skill to Ella. Luckily Brittany knew how to be firm in the face of such looks, otherwise they would end up owning every Toys R' Us they walked into.
Step two was to go to the theater to watch any film Puck wasn't in by Santana's insistence when their date nights first began. Instead of his new action movie they ended up in a cheesy romance flick, but Santana was fine with it since Brittany's wandering hands made the trip worthwhile. On some nights they went to galleries or events, on others they saw plays instead of movies, but on this night they all went to the new restaurant Santana had recently acquired to see if it was everything her profit margin said it was.
Normally she wouldn't have made a big deal out of her arrival, she would show up, observe how things were run and make decisions from there, but this night she was with her wife and best friends at a restaurant she owned so she called ahead and made sure it was a red carpet affair. As a result the food was spectacular and there wasn't so much as a whim they could mention in their waiter's hearing that wasn't instantly fulfilled.
Brittany seemed pleased, she did note that the establishment lacked kids meals and though the Savoureux chain were a series of restaurants that was a little too 'high class' for that sort of thing she made sure to make note of it.
"So how are you feeling about the food?" Santana asked the table.
"Fancy, what is this Greek?" Puck asked.
Quinn cast him a glance, "At a restaurant called Savoureux?"
"What is that Greek for 'not Greek'?"
"It's French for 'tasty'." She clarified
"Then they got the name right." Brittany said before taking another bite.
"I was thinking about just owning the chain outright since the owner they have now literally does not care about his business. Their books are a mess and it'll be more work on my plate but I think it will pay off in the long run."
Quinn nodded, "Sounds like a solid investment as long as all the chefs are as good as this one."
Puck tapped his fork on his plate, "So no one is going to tell me if this is Greek or not?"
Brittany suddenly brightened cutting across Quinn's incoming answer, "Oh yeah I wanted to tell you two first, I'm going to stop teaching at Pop n' Lock."
The news had Quinn looking dubious, "But I thought you loved it there."
"I love dancing. And I do love teaching but the thing is I can do both at home. I'll still teach the advanced students who wanted to work with me personally, just not from the studio. I just want to do some awesome performances from the comfort of my basement. Also I did some research and it turns out if you get enough hits on your channel Youtube pays you for it, it's like public access television except they pay you… and people watch it… and it doesn't suck."
"Why do you care it's not like you need the mon-" Puck started before he recalled who he was sitting next to and shoved a forkful of food in his mouth.
"I think it's a great idea Brittany, sometimes earning your own income keeps others from thinking your job is a hobby." She said pointedly looking at Puck who suddenly became interested in his shoes, "But you wouldn't make that mistake would you Santana?"
The brunette shook her head, "Never."
Puck glared and mouthed 'Suck up' at her.
"It's not too hard is it? Trying to work at home?" Brittany asked clearly concerned.
Quinn shrugged, "Trying to start a law firm is hard from anywhere and Joseph is remarkably like his father so sometimes I have to be on guard for the absurd types of mischief he can get into. But with Santana home so much it shouldn't be that big of an issue. I may have to bring a nanny into the picture for a while since I'm finally at a point where I can hire other people and open my firm in an actual building and Puck has that sequel coming up."
"Paresect Hunters Two." Puck said proudly.
"What's a Parasect?" Brittany asked.
"I have no friggin clue."
"Anyway," Quinn said firmly, "You should have an easier time of it. Besides soon Ella and Violet will be old enough not to need constant supervision."
"Well we are having another baby-" Brittany began, but Puck started choking on his wine while looking at Santana like she had grown another head and even Quinn seemed a little surprised.
"Not me." Santana said flatly.
As he coughed Quinn rubbed his back and elaborated, "We recently found out we're having another."
Santana's eyebrows flew up, she knew full well that they had four kids in Ohio, but here Puck had a vasectomy after Caleb, "How did that happen?"
"I had the same question." Puck wheezed.
"Don't even." Quinn warned.
"I'm not saying it's not mine, I've been tapping it left and right, you wouldn't have the energy to cheat. I just thought the point of snipping my junk was so this couldn't happen."
All Santana could offer was a shrug, "Nothing's a hundred percent baby proof when your parts don't match."
"Santana's still putting that to the test though." Brittany said casually, making Puck sputter and Quinn laugh.
"This isn't going to mess with your plans for the firm is it?" Santana asked, partially because she cared and partially because the subject needed to change quickly before Puck got his voice back and asked Brittany to elaborate.
"Well I have already interviewed a few people to handle some of my workload so they will just have to take on the whole burden for a while. I'll still do everything short of going to the office and to the courtroom after the delivery but leading up to it I plan to still be on the front lines."
"You can do that?" Brittany asked.
"Oh yes, if anything I find pregnancy makes winning easier. When I walk into a courtroom with blonde hair and a baby on the way I am underestimated, especially if they read what the papers wrote about me. So they show up unprepared because they think I'm just some pregnant blonde bimbo. Then when I come out of the gate swinging they are left speechless to find that I can read my own name let alone know the law. Plus I can get away with badgering a witness because I can blame hormones and during opening and closing arguments the jury is more sympathetic to me and more resentful of the prosecutor when he speaks ill of the defense. I use this prejudice sexist system to my advantage and it feels good."
"She's an evil genius." Puck said.
"I'm glad we're finally acknowledging it." Santana snorted, "But you are going to be there when the baby comes right?" she asked him suddenly serious.
"Of course haven't missed a birth yet and I will have you know I got my woman the hookup on office stuff. All of the pieces are disused props from the Terminator movies." He sounded ecstatic.
"He makes it sound it sound like it's made of solid gold." Quinn sighed.
"Babe it's Terminator! You will have clients lining up around the block just to sit on the furniture."
"I want to sit on it." Brittany said, Puck's excitement getting the better of her.
"Probably has bullet holes in it." Santana chuckled.
"You think?" he asked suddenly even happier, "Nah they would have used blanks for the movie."
"By the way Santana now that we're moving I can pay back the loan you gave me." Quinn said leaving Puck and Brittany to be excited about the furniture.
"The what?" She recalled giving Quinn money since she outright refused to take a cent for her business from Puck, the reasons she was sure were pride related, but she hadn't expected any of it back. She didn't even want it back, she just wanted to see Quinn happy with where she was in life and since she was she hadn't given the money a second thought.
"You were the cornerstone that helped me get on my feet and it's time I paid you back, and, you know I hate owing people."
"I'd rather cash it in for babysitting points."
"With you two trying to keep the baby score even I don't think you have that much cash Lopez." Puck laughed.
Knowing she would get nowhere telling Quinn to just keep the money she nodded, "Whenever you want, there's no rush. But I only want it if I can pick it up from the Fabray Attorney at Law building after you win a case big enough to spare that kind of change, you know as a celebratory gesture to prove it was a good investment. Knowing you it should take a week maybe two."
Quinn knew exactly what she was doing but shrugged nonetheless, being a woman who couldn't turn down that kind of challenge, "Deal."
Puck took another appreciative mouthful before he looked to Brittany, "I get you though, wanting to work from home and all. I have my schedule mostly set for Miami based projects, but I still spend long hours away from home."
"But at least it's exactly what you want to do." Brittany said, "And I wouldn't worry too much about spending time at home, you clearly have enough time to teach Joseph how to belch his name and to give him another little brother. Besides Quinn won't let you grow apart from her or the boys she loves having you around too much."
At Quinn's affronted look Santana had to work hard to keep a grin off her face, "Oh and how do you figure that?" the surly blonde asked.
"Because if you didn't you wouldn't live with him and let your kids have his last name." she said plainly.
"He named the boys."
"Like he would have been able to do even that if you hadn't wanted it."
Puck grinned widely at Quinn who suddenly wanted to discuss Parasect Hunters 2.
The distraction worked because almost instantly Puck was deeply into explaining what his director said he thought a Parasect was.
Santana watched them with a contented smile, her family was all together and more importantly they were happy. She still wore the blue bracelet on her wrist but for a long time it had stopped representing a life in Ohio full of connections she longed for and a little girl who was a great friend. Though she would never forget her experience, the bracelet now reminded her of everything she had and how lucky she was to have it.
Santana had a short list of options at the moment.
The first, and by far the most appealing, was to get in her car and drive home, but what would that accomplish? Nothing. The second was to lose her fucking mind and make a confession of love in front of everyone laying everything on the line in one final begging plea. But was she that brave or drunk? No. Third was to bow out gracefully and just accept whatever came, but there wasn't enough Xanax in the world to make that happen so she was perpetually stuck on option four; mope around like a the sad pathetic beast that she was.
Grumbling darkly she picked up a cup full of depressingly non-alcoholic punch and looked around the dance hall that would seem upscale to anyone who had never left Lima. The dour decorations made her feel like she was at a debutant ball instead of a high school prom and the fact that she had chosen a simple navy blue dress only added to it, she picked the color to match her mood but with the whole gym, and subsequently the people in it, in muted and dark colors the effect was lost.
The whole event was unimaginative and lazy; Figgins hadn't even bothered to schedule glee to sing choosing instead to have some local band play music that was mildly popular ten years ago. There were balloons, streamers and lights but it was still so grim, or was that her mood changing everything? At this point she couldn't tell. All she did know was that the brightest thing at the whole dance was tall, blonde and currently in a dimly lit corner sitting in Artie Abrams lap like she was his fucking pet.
A hot burning jealousy swelled in her and she tried to quell it by taking another large gulp of punch, but it unsurprisingly didn't help.
She once again considered going home but decided that at the very least she could spend this one night with Brittany, even if it was to look at her from afar. Then she saw him give her a tender loving look that had Brittany smiling back and Santana turned to leave.
Her progress was halted by Puck who grabbed her and dragged her to the far wall looking conspiratorial, "You seen Sue? I am going to spike this punch if it's the last thing I do." he whispered looking over his shoulder.
"It will be when she catches you. And no I haven't, I'm leaving."
He gave her an odd look, "Seriously? We've been here like twenty minutes. You should at least get in a dance with your date."
She almost asked him who he meant until she recalled there was a football player somewhere out on the dance floor that was supposed to be her companion for the evening, "I'm probably going to book it out of this shit town right after graduation anyway so why bother playing nice."
"Not worth it to show everyone your beard one last time before you go?" he chuckled.
Her eyes went impossibly wide, "Wh-what are you talking about?"
At that he laughed, "Santana are you serious? You think no one's noticed you and Britt?"
Gulping, she glanced at Brittany who was kneeling next to Artie's chair deep in discussion with him, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Okay well that makes just you then."
"You don't know shit!" she snapped.
"Whatever Lopez I'm just trying to tell you that the closet is about ten steps behind you. You aren't as hidden as you think. And you should stop torturing yourself so much about it, if people are going to give you crap about how you live your life don't do them the favor of doing their job for them."
She wanted to rage against his accusations but his words were sincere and did provide mild comfort so she sighed and relaxed her shoulders slightly, "Even if I was into Britt she has Meals on Wheels over there so let's just drop it."
In a very uncharacteristic move Puck bit his lip, it appeared to her he had something to say that he didn't want to divulge, "I don't think they are as attached as you think they are."
From the general mood across the room she could tell Artie was being sweet and kind and Brittany was still smiling softly at him. She wanted to throw up.
"I have to go Puck."
"You should talk to her. If not tonight then soon."
Without looking back she cut across the dance floor and to the door only to be stopped again by none other than her highly forgettable date.
"Hey where are you going in such a hurry?" he asked.
Santana couldn't remember his name, ironically the only thing she recalled about it was that when she heard it she thought it would be easy to remember. It was David… or Daniel… or it could have started with P… Paul?
The boy was tall and handsome with olive skin and light blue eyes that reminded her of a certain someone, probably why she had avoided him all night.
"I don't feel well, need to get home." she said automatically.
"Oh come on that is lame excuse. I know chick code and that is another way of saying I'm not paying enough attention to you so you're mad." he sighed and Santana was so lost in trying to figure out how to tell him all the ways that wasn't the case she missed her window of opportunity. "Come on let's do this thing."
He pulled her out on the dance floor, his powerful build making it possible for him to not even notice she was resisting, and begin to dance in the most non-rhythmic manner she had ever seen. It was like he had studied this particular beat for years just so he could know exactly which notes to not hit. She tried to leave again when he released her in favor of doing some sort of fist pump dance, but when she turned she saw Brittany coming towards her and suddenly she needed the idiot flailing in front of her. She needed to look like she was at the prom having a good time with her date because looking like a sad closeted Lima loser was not an option in front of the girl who held all the cards.
Of course her attempt to synchronize with a boy who was dancing like a drowning man flails didn't exactly mask anything. The blonde watched them dance, well Barry?…Riche? whatever was dancing and she was more or less trying not to get hit by his ill timed movements. As the pulse of the music died down so did Harison's? movements, when it was finally safe to get within range Brittany stepped in between them.
"Can I steal your date for a minute?" Brittany asked him politely.
He gave her a once over and grinned, "You sure you don't want to get in on this action?"
"No." she said simply with that vacant stare she used when she really didn't feel like elaborating or being more polite than the already had been.
At that moment a girl walked by giving Walter? an obvious wink to which he responded, "Yeah fine that's cool." he said never taking his eyes off the other girl as he followed.
Santana watched him leave with a look of supreme irritation on her face, not that she missed his company. It just went one step further to prove what a farce their date was and she really had wanted to avoid having to talk to Brittany tonight. Looking into those eyes did things to her, they made her feel things that tore her insides up all while making her feel like she could fly. And when she turned around and faced those knowing blue orbs she knew there was no running, they trapped her in place. A slow song filtered down to them from the speakers and Brittany moved close pulling them together in a slow sway.
Of fucking course. Nothing but Usher and Smash Mouth all night and NOW it has to go slow. She thought bitterly.
She wanted to pull away from the arm around her waist, it was too much contact with them out in public and both clearly not drunk. All around her she could feel the eyes of the other students and it was making her whole body heat up in a bad way, it felt like they knew. Like they all knew the truth and were laughing about it. Santana knew she was being at least a little paranoid but she couldn't help it, Puck knew and more than likely the whole glee club did. That thought didn't upset her too much, but when she saw Azimio across the hall laughing loudly with his friends she shuddered. Sure in a few weeks she would be free of him but there would always be someone like him wherever she went. It sickened her to know that she would be plain lucky to only get a slushie from someone like him outside of high school.
"I love your hair." Brittany's soft voice snapped her out of her internal panic and despite herself a small nervous smile appeared on her lips, at least until she remembered Artie and it melted off.
"Thanks you look nice too." she said flatly.
Brittany sensed her shift in attitude and sighed, "I broke up with Artie."
Santana's eyes snapped to their captors trying to search for an explanation in them that she couldn't see, "Why?" she asked because it was too much to think it had been because of her. Optimism wasn't something she readily invested in these days.
"Does it matter?" she asked with a light sigh, one that indicated that the answer should be obvious but Santana was too tense to be able to pick up on that.
"I guess not. But you two seemed pretty close a minute ago."
"I was saying goodbye."
"You were being pretty chummy for goodbye." she almost snarled.
Brittany gave her a slight smile letting Santana know that she was being ridiculous and for the first time the Latina picked up on the signal, "I want to take a chance on you." she said.
Santana felt her insides writhe and suddenly the idea of being with Brittany was more than some impossible fantasy. It could happen, they could be together, but she knew Brittany's terms and, as if on cue, her ears automatically tuned into the sound of Azimio saying something cruel to Kurt and Blaine.
"Oh?" was the only response she gave.
"I love you Santana and I know how much you love me. I want to take a chance on you because not doing it would be something I think I would regret for the rest of my life. Yes, I did have a long goodbye with Artie because I love him, but I love you so much more and I love how you feel the same. When I think about us growing old together I know we'll be friends at the very least, but when I try and picture who we'll be married to I can't, and I think that's because it doesn't matter. In the end the picture is better with just us in it." she said smiling at Santana in that way that made her heart melt.
"Britt it isn't that simple, the world is a hard place for people like… for people who are different."
Her smile quirked at that, "You think you have to tell me that?"
Santana managed a small laugh, "Point taken." she sighed really wishing the song would end so she could get some distance between the two of them and just think.
"I'm here in front of you asking you to be my girlfriend. This is me telling you that I want you in every way you can give." Brittany said and her eyes were so serious and steady. Santana had never seen such a solid determination in her before and it was doing that thing to her insides where it felt like they were burning and freezing all at the same time.
She opened her mouth to answer, she really wanted to answer, she wanted to say everything that she would have had Brittany accepted her offer when she originally confessed her love at the lockers. But Azimio was laughing uproariously as he 'accidentally' spilled his punch all over Kurt's head.
Blaine instantly went up in arms gaining the attention of every chaperone and soon the large boy was escorted out. Her eyes returned to Brittany's expectant ones and she couldn't remember what it was she was going to say, she could only see herself being ridiculed for the rest of her fucking life because she didn't know how to not love this one person. Her eyes searched for somewhere else to settle besides on Brittany's that had slight worry creeping into them now. She looked at Puck who seemed to be watching their interaction intently and to Sue who was watching him intently, they went to Rachel who was busy trying to dab red punch out of Kurt's white shirt and failing, they went to the door where there was fresh air and a car that could take her away from all of this.
She wanted Brittany so badly it made her literally ache, she wanted her so badly the idea of turning her down and just being her friend while some other person rode up and claimed the love of her life made that option untenable. From the moment in the woods on some level she knew that with Brittany it was going to have to be all or nothing, she couldn't live at her side as her friend because she was so much more than that. Santana knew the picture Brittany was talking about and she didn't see anyone else in it either, she didn't want anyone else in it.
On the other hand she really did not see herself as a person strong enough to shoulder the hate of the world coming down on her because of that picture. Sure she knew that there were places where things weren't so bad, sure she wouldn't be alone and she would have Brittany, but then what? The future was so unsure and what if they didn't work out as a couple then there she'd be, exposed and devastated on top of being outed to the whole world.
Her eyes found worried blue ones again and as she looked into them she knew the next words out of her mouth would change her future forever.
A/N: Last part was actually the first thing ever written for Glimpse, but I cut it in favor of starting the story with Santana in Boston 10 years later. This was back when I toyed with the idea of her being simply being flung into a future without Brittany and being able to go back to that night and keep it from happening. Added it here as a little bonus with mild modifications to fit the universe I went with, plus I think it leads back to the original quite well for an endless loop of reading LOL.
Answering a couple of common questions:
Why are Violet and Ella in Florida? I really and truly did consider from the very beginning giving Florida Santana different children but on the whole it didn't sit right with the tone of the story. Though a lot of the storytelling is based around how things are different with the different situations, it was supposed to above all things offer closure. Different kids would just open up a whole new bag of questions; What are they like? What is Santana's relationship with them vs Ohio etc. This way you already know these things and it is a method to let readers know the girls better. Plus this whole thing was based off the actions of Christmas Magic Man in the first place so if you need a plot friendly reason the answer is he did Santana a solid and rearranged some things. I tried to hint at it earlier with Ohio Quinn and Puck's inability to use effective birth control leading Puck to believe they were plain meant to have their kids. That's my reasoning anyway, hope everyone preferred them to totally different OC's.
What in the hell does Ohio Brittany do besides sit at home?/Does Ohio Brittany still dance? Actually she does a lot of things when she's home alone, but I never got a chance to really get into it as the story follows Santana. The actual answer is; anything and everything. She still dances (it is her preferred method of losing baby weight), paints and cultivates random skills (whittling, bird calls etc). Assuming I actually post the Ella one shots it would probably come up there.
EDIT: Random Glimpses: Side Stories is now up for your reading pleasure.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey, all your reviews, encouragement, comments and criticisms have been thoroughly appreciated.
Visit me on tumblr for update news or just slap me on author alert if you only want to know when I'm done. Review if the mood strikes :)